HAPPY VALLEY, Oregon — Police have charged a 24-year-old Oregon man with brutally dousing a stranger with gasoline and setting him on fire as he sipped his coffee in a Denny’s restaurant.
Deshaun James Swanger allegedly walked into the restaurant Wednesday morning and took a seat in a booth adjacent to the 69-year-old victim, Scott Ranstrom. Swanger then threw the flammable liquid on Ranstrom followed by a match, setting him on fire, cops said.
Swanger fled the scene but was captured by surveillance cameras. Ranstrom suffered burns to his head and upper body and was hospitalized in critical condition. Relatives say he has suffered “disfiguring trauma” that is “life changing both physically and emotionally.”
“I went to see him and I thought, ‘It wouldn’t be that bad, could it?’ No, it’s worse,” Ranstrom’s sister Leslie Kurtz told KOIN-TV. “He’s in critical condition… it’s horrible. Whoever did this is horrible.”
Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputies caught up with Swanger late Thursday at a transitional home just blocks from the restaurant following a tip from a housemate who saw Swanger’s picture on the news, KGW-TV reported.
Swanger, who has prior arrests for robbery, burglary and assault, was charged with aggravated attempted murder and held on $500,000 bail.
Investigators say there is no indication that Swanger knew Ranstrom and that the crime appeared random.
Cops are investigating whether the assault was connected to a similar incident earlier in the week in which an unidentified man appeared to throw liquid and lit matches on another man in a movie theater during a showing of “The Fate of the Furious.” No one was hurt.
In a statement, Denny’s officials said they were “deeply disturbed by the senseless, random act of violence.”